Recently, it has been reported that an arranged marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 23-year-old teacher ‘has triggered a call for a fresh debate on child marriage’. Under Malaysia’s Syariah Law, which has jurisdiction over Muslims, Muslims under the age of 16 would require the consent of the Syariah Court before a marriage is allowed. In this case, the Court had granted permission for the couple to marry.
Glenda Larke believes that a child marriage is no different to paedophilia, even if it is legal.
A 14-year-old school girl is not an adult. She's not a woman, even if she has started her menses. She's still a child. She looks up to adults. Her religion and her culture tell her to obey her elders, especially her parents. She is gullible and vulnerable.
A 23 year old man who marries her – an educated man, not some illiterate fellow whose society is still steeped in the 19th century idea that children should be working at 12 and married at 14 – is purely and simply a paedophile.
B.Joe is of the opinion that the rights of children and minors are not being upheld by the Syariah Court and the girl’s parents.
And the funny part of the whole deal is that the marriage was approved by the Syariah Court – what happened to the protection of the minor? Why the parents could not wait for a few more years until the minor is able to decisions for herself?
Un:dhimmi also believes that it is morally wrong.
Study after study shows that girls subjected to sexual activity at such early ages suffer not only damage to their still-developing reproductive systems, but also lasting psychological trauma.
However, Fyzal took a more neutral stance on the issue.
In the situation above the consent of Syariah Court has been obtained. That means we should have confidence in our Syariah Judges – they must have taken into account all circumstances before granting consent.
Such consent, I believe, had been granted on the confidence of the judges that the man can take care of the girl and the girl could grow up well under the care of that man. If the judge doubted it, such consent will not be granted.
Thus, I submit that in the issue of the marriage of Muslim girls under the age of 16, lets the Syariah Courts do their work. They know when to grant the consent and when not to grant the consent.
But I am of the view that open discussion is still required between the Government and the Syariah experts to deal with this issue.